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Retired Buffalo police lieutenant sentenced to prison in sick leave abuse case

A retired Buffalo police lieutenant who falsely claimed he was injured while on duty and too hurt to work has received a six-month prison sentence for his crime.

Patrick S. O’Mara, 54, of Buffalo, also was sentenced by Senior U.S. District Judge William M. Skretny to two years of supervised release and ordered to pay restitution of $103,946 to the City of Buffalo.

As part of a 2014 plea deal with federal prosecutors, O’Mara admitted that he had cheated the city’s sick leave system by collecting “injured-on-duty pay” in 2011 and 2012, even though he was capable of performing light duty work in the Buffalo Police Department. He pleaded guilty to wire fraud.

O’Mara was placed on injured-on-duty status in 2004 due to back and neck strains suffered while on duty. He returned to light duty work about eight months later. In 2005, he was placed on injured-on-duty status again after claiming his right arm was injured when he lifted two reams of copy paper. He stayed on injured-on-duty status, with full pay and benefits, until 2012.

Federal investigators determined that O’Mara worked another job as a church organist and music director at the same time he claimed he was too injured for light duty in the police department.

O’Mara, who retired in 2012, told investigators he considered it “demeaning” to sit at a desk and answer the telephone.

O’Mara was one of two Buffalo cops charged in 2012 with fraudulently collecting injury pay. Robert Quintana, who was placed on injured-on-duty status in 2005 after falling on a police call, faces a trial on mail and health care fraud charges. Quintana is a former Common Council member.

Since the prosecutions, federal officials and Buffalo police said the number of Buffalo officers on injured-on-duty status has decreased from more than 100 to fewer than 20.